The Boston Red Sox didn’t expect to be in this position in August and neither did the New York Mets. Boston won the World Series last season, so the expectations were that they would at least be in contention for it again this season. The Mets weren’t necessarily expected to contend, but after their offseason moves were supposed to be in contention for their division. Neither team has lived up to these expectations, but things are looking interesting for the suddenly surging Mets. What went wrong for these teams and what can be expected going forward?
It’s not a surprise to see Boston at 63-59 and 17.5 GB in the AL East and 8.5 GB of the second AL Wild Card spot when you look at the state of their pitching. Boston’s team ERA is 4.83, which is below the 4.51 MLB average. You don’t need to look at that stat to see the issues however. Ace Chris Sale so far went 6-11 with a 4.41 ERA. He delivered 12-4 with a 2.11 ERA last season. SP Nathan Eovaldi went 3-3 with a 3.33 ERA after being acquired by them mid-season last year. Now he’s been demoted to the bullpen due to missing too much time with an injury and has a 6.25 ERA. He’s now moving back into their rotation. If their rotation is bad enough, how about their bullpen? They perhaps wisely let CP Craig Kimbrel leave as a free agent after last season, but had issues finding a closer all season. The ones who got the job didn’t exactly deliver: Ryan Brasier has a 4.46 ERA, Matt Barnes has a 4.70 ERA and Brandon Workman currently has a 1.87 ERA, (but a 3.46 xFIP) and is projected for a 3.95 ERA going forward by Steamer.
Pitching is to blame for Boston’s problems this season, but what about the Mets? The Mets were in a strange position this season, they didn’t necessarily appear to be contenders, but looked as if they had a chance at winning their division. Up until recently, it looked as if they would certainly miss the playoffs amid a very disappointing season. The Mets currently have an interesting schedule going forward: 8 games away against their division rivals, 16 total games against teams chasing wild card spots, 20 games against teams currently holding playoff spots and the furthest that they have to travel west is Colorado. Could this be enough to have their recent winning streak lead them to a playoff berth?
The Mets were burned by some players who were supposed to be key contributors: 2B Robinson Cano produced a -0.1 rWAR with a batting line of .252/.295/.415; CP Edwin Diaz added -0.5 rWAR with a 5.60 ERA; set-up man Jeurys Familia produced a -0.7 rWAR with a 6.52 ERA…. All that said, the Mets enjoyed a breakout from 1B Pete Alonso, who produced a 3.8 rWAR and good chemistry in recent weeks that led to the team being 2 games back from a Wild Card berth.
Ultimately, we can debate on whether either team still has a chance to turn things around, but perhaps it may be better to follow their odds for each game, rather than debate how they might do in general. It might be better to examine the specific matchups of each game, rather than guess whether the teams will crawl out of their respective holes. Personally, I think that Boston’s season is about to be over early unless they go on a major winning streak, and the Mets might end up grabbing the second NL Wild Card spot.